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Written by Texas Highways

Located in the Crockett County Courthouse square, Judy Black’s statue, "The Tie That Binds," depicts a young pioneer family.

You get the idea of just how empty and remote the country around Ozona is when you learn that local officials installed a red light on top of the 1902 Crockett County Courthouse not only to summon the sheriff’s deputy but to guide travelers to town after dark.

The Lake Mineral Wells State Trailway travels 20 miles between Weatherford and Mineral Wells, including 16 bridges.

A flash of bright green catches my eye, and I slam on the brakes, my bicycle kicking up gravel as I skid to a stop. A grass snake nearly 3 feet long slithers out of my path and into the underbrush, leaving a faint wavy line in its wake. My eyes return to the trail ahead, its crushed-limestone surface pale against the grapevine-covered thickets on either side. Sunlight filters through the canopy of leaves overhead, dappling the ground.

Visitors can stop by for a free tour any day of the week and spend time petting and feeding the rescue ranch's donkeys.

Mark and Amy Meyers, the founders of Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue near San Angelo, have made it their mission to change perceptions about donkeys one person at a time.

Mission Tejas State Park commemorates Spain’s 17th-century attempt  to maintain its territory in East Texas

Despite my job as a Texas photographer and writer, I hadn’t visited many of East Texas’ state parks in years. Last year, when University of Texas Press asked me to revise my 2008 guidebook, Official Guide to Texas State Parks and Historic Sites, I seized my opportunity and hit the road. The experience was a bit like renewing old friendships; I not only saw things I remembered from previous visits, but I also found new surprises. Here are some highlights from my East Texas favorites.

Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailway lies along the western edge of the Llano Estacado.

Some know it as the Rolling Plains. Others call it Cowboy Alley. A land of open road and enormous sky, the Big Empty lies more or less north of Abilene and east of Lubbock. Larger than some states, with a population smaller than many urban zip codes, the seldom-traveled chunk of prairie is home to red-dirt farms and huge ranches, from the Pitchfork and Matador to the Four Sixes.

scenic route 05 KLEPPER E ROCK KITE 2

Eighteen miles north of Fredericksburg on Ranch Road 956, a 425-foot pink rock looms over the landscape. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area protects the giant granite dome that is both a National Natural Landmark and in the National Register of Historic Places as an Archeological District. The formation inspires many visitors to hike to the top (take the Summit Trail) and, sometimes, to fly a kite. For more information visit Texas Parks and Wildlife's Enchanted Rock State Natural Area site.

Our staff has compiled a digital resource guide on the reopenings of major attractions, restaurants, and hotels in the coastal cities affected by Hurricane Harvey.

With cooler temps, crisp air and beautiful colors, autumn is a great time to visit Big Bend Ranch State Park. It’s also a great time to watch for wildlife. More than 48 mammal species and more than 300 bird species have been spotted in the park. While some species migrate to the park during the autumn season, others are there year-round. Here, Park Superintendent Nathanael Gold gives us some insider tips on what to watch for in the park, along with some safety tips in case you run into a slightly feistier species.

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While Houston’s sprawl may be knocking on Conroe’s door, don’t make the mistake of lumping this town in with the masses. Its distinctive blend of Piney Woods beauty, lakeside fun, and rich history make it well worth the highway exit.

 7502007Granbury is the kind of place where everyone knows everyone’s business—and if the locals don’t know you yet, they’ll find out soon enough. But as the sun goes down, a shroud of mystery sets over this affable North Texas town.

ghahremani mcallen finalfinalFor many fellow Texans from “up north,” the Rio Grande Valley might be synonymous with birds, beaches, and grapefruit groves. To be sure, the Valley remains a bird-lover’s paradise, the beach still beckons, and the citrus is the sweetest anywhere. But with the region’s rapid growth and a nascent cultural boom, that list should also properly include art galleries, fine dining, and world-class performances.

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